BRIDE TIPS: 6 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU REACH OUT TO A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Well hello again! It’s nice to see you, hope you’re having a fantastic day! Today’s post is all about what to do before you reach out to a wedding photographer.

After you get engaged, as you know, you just start reaching out to all of the vendors trying to find the perfect ones for you and get them booked! Each vendor you choose should compliment you and your dream for your wedding - and your photographer is no exception to that. Before you start sending emails to every single photographer you come across on Instagram, I want to share some things you should be aware of before you hit that first send. Let’s begin!

#1 KNOW WHAT STYLE OF PHOTOGRAPHY YOU LIKE

There are so many photographers out there and so many of them have different styles of shooting + editing and YES, it is important for you to know the differences in them! Shooting styles and editing styles are very different things so let’s start with the shooting styles.

SHOOTING STYLES:

Classic — this style of photography reflects reality with some artistic license and is a bit more formal. Justin and Mary Marantz are a good example of the classic style of photography. If you choose this type of photographer you are likely someone who values traditions, wants timeless photographs and a photographer with an eye for grand and/or dramatic scenes.

Documentary — this style of photography captures what is natural and candid and does not alter situations or pose people. This can also be thought of as a photo journalist style of photography. If you choose this type of photographer for your wedding they will likely only direct posing during bridal party and family photos and will let the rest of the day play out and be there to document what happened.

Editorial — this style of photography rely’s heavily on (often) dramatic use of light and the photographer curating whatever is inside the frame of the image to move things and people into specific places for a specific end goal. This type of photography can be most often seen in magazines and most styled shoots. If you choose this type of photographer they will likely give many posing prompts, style everything just so and deliver magazine worthy images.

Lifestyle — this style of photography highlights what is natural and real by curating the items in the photograph and/or giving direction to the people in them to get genuine emotions and actions from them. If you hire this type of photographer you’re going to get a little bit of everything! Lifestyle photographers love natural moments and they excel at creating scenes for natural moments to occur with prompts. They will work with the given light and follow the mood it provides. (this is my style of photography)

Most photographers are not 100% one style but if you look through their blogs, instagram pages or client galleries you should be able to tell which way their style mostly leans. It’s important to know which one you want for your wedding day so that you can hire a photographer who shoots that way. If you hire a classic photographer you aren’t going to get the same results as if you hire an editorial photographer. Photographers don’t change their shooting style for each and every shoot (if they do it’s likely because they are newer and haven’t settled on a style yet) so don’t expect the one you hire to shoot the way you want if it’s different from their set photographic style.

Now that you know a little bit about shooting styles, let’s talk about editing styles. This one is just as important to know and understand as shooting styles. The photographer you hire should have a set editing style that doesn’t change very much from shoot to shoot and you should know that you like their style before you hire them. There are a lot of different editing styles out there and I can’t get to them all so I’m going to cover the three main styles I see the most!

EDITING STYLES

Light + Airy — This style of photography is primarily known from film and has carried over into digital photography for a lot of photographers. Its defining elements are light and colors that are clean and natural. This is the style loves pastel colors and bright, even light.

Dark + Moody — This style of photography leans a bit dramatic and cinematic in nature. It embraces shadows, deep colors, and plays with light and color tones more.

Classic — This style of photography is the most true-to-life editing style. When editing, the photographer is liking going to be adding a punch of color (saturation) and dimension (contrast) to each image but not really altering color tones or light very much.

There can be a lot of variation within each different editing style so be sure to take the time to look through a lot of work from the photographers you are reaching out to and make sure you love the overall look + feel of their images. For example, some “dark and moody” photographers might prefer a darker image or warmer (more yellow) tones as opposed to another who might lean cooler (more blue) with their images and maybe a little brighter.

To help distinguish the differences within styles and with different styles here are some examples of the same image edited in different styles:

EXAMPLE #1

The images above are edited exactly the same except for the level of warmth in the image. The image on the left is cooler (more blue) and the image on the right is warmer (more yellow).

EXAMPLE #2

In this example the image on the left is fairly true-to-life in both color and light. This image was taken right after the sun dipped below the horizon so the slightly muted tones of the greens was natural. The image on the right has been altered quite a bit to reflect a matte look that leans very cool and desaturated.

Now that you have an idea of the different types of shooting and editing within photography you can choose the ones that you like best and only inquire with photographers who fit that style. If you’re not sure what style of shooting a photographer has, just ask! A good way to do that is to say something like, “can you give me an idea of what it’s like to work with you? How do you like to approach posing?” If they say, “I never pose I just let the moments happen,” then you’ll know that they are a documentary style photographer!

#2 KNOW YOUR BUDGET

Ah, budget - every bride’s favorite topic… Trust me, I hate it as much as you do but we’ve gotta talk about it. Whether you’re paying for your wedding yourself or your parents are helping you, you’re going to have a budget. Having an overall budget is good, and you need that, but you also need to have individual budgets for all of the different things that make up your wedding.

There are so many different photographers out there and they have so many different ranges of prices. In general, the more experienced the photographer, the higher their prices will be. Someone just starting out is likely to be more budget friendly - but keep in mind that, usually, what you pay for is what you get. If you’re looking for a budget photographer you need to be okay with the images that they can give you. Practice and experience makes everyone better so if you want a killer experience with gorgeous images from your day you probably wont be hiring a budget photographer. PROBABLY - just know that there are exceptions to everything so if you luck out and find an amazing photographer for a great deal then celebrate!!

So what should you expect to spend on your wedding photography? A good rule is to expect to pay 10% of your overall wedding budget on photography. If your wedding is going to cost $20k, you should budget $2k for your photographer. If your wedding is going to cost $50k, you should budget $5k.

I can’t tell you what most photographers charge because everyone is different and every market is different but I know that where I live in Oklahoma City there are tons of photographers in the $1500-$2500 starting range and I think that for a somewhat modest wedding ($15-$25k) that is a very reasonable price range. I know it can feel like a lot for someone to tell you, “my prices start at $2k,” but when you look at everything you’re spending on your wedding and think about the fact that photography is the only way (other than video) that you’re going to be able to document all of those other things and remember them forever, it’s a small price to pay (i think).

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#4 KNOW WHAT YOU WANT IN A PACKAGE

Most wedding photographers will offer different “packages” at different price points so that their clients have options. A pretty standard number of packages is 3 and they will differ on things like:

  • amount of time photographer will shoot for

  • one or two photographers

  • including an engagement session, bridal session or day-after session

  • photo albums

  • print credit

  • digital images

Starting with time you’ll want to know how long you want your photographer to be there on your wedding day. Do you want everything captured from when you first start getting ready all the way until the last guests leaves? If so you might be looking at 12 hours for photography services which is usually a top tier package. If you want your photographer to capture the very end of your hair+makeup and stay until you leave your reception you’re probably looking at 8 hours for photography services. (obviously these numbers depend entirely on where you live and what your wedding culture is like)

In Oklahoma City a very standard number of hours for photography services is 8, with time beginning about 3 or 4 hours before the ceremony begins.

Some photographers will include a second photographer (known as a “second shooter”) in all of their packages and some will only include it in one or two options. Having a second shooter will result in more images for you and a little more flexibility in your timeline because two people can cover more ground than one. A second shooter is definitely not necessary but is a really nice thing to have if your photographer offers it at a price point you can afford.

Next you’ll want to know if it’s important to you if an “extra” session is included in your package like an engagement session, bridal session or a day-after session. In the photography package that I booked for my wedding there is an engagement session included which is great because now I don’t have to worry about also budgeting for that, it’s already included!

The last options in a package have to do with how you’ll receive your images. Do they create an album for you (usually a top tier option)? Do they give you print copies or digital files? Sometimes photographers will promise a certain number of images and sometimes they will just give you the best from the day whatever number that may be. In my opinion, it’s not important for your photographer to promise you 1000 photos (or any other number) from your day - 1000 photos is A LOT to go through and you’re probably not going to want to do that!

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#5 KNOW WHAT PERSONALITY TYPE YOU WANT TO WORK WITH

This might not seem important at first but TRUST ME IT IS! There are a few vendors who will be with you all day on your wedding day and your photographer is one of them so you want to be sure you like them and get along well! If your personality is really subdued and quiet and you get stressed out by people who are loud and energetic, you’re not going to want that in a photographer! The best way to figure out if you’re going to vibe well with your photographer or not is to meet them before your wedding! Hop on Skype, meet them for coffee, go to dinner, do something with your potential photographer before you book so that you know for sure you like their personality as much as their work! They will be up in your business for likely 8 or more hours on your wedding day so please, please, make sure you like them before you book!

#6 NARROW DOWN YOUR OPTIONS

We’ve made it to the final tip! Before you start reaching out to any photographers try to narrow down your options to your top 3-5 people. It will get really overwhelming to e-mail 10 different photographers and try to keep track of everyone’s pricing, packages, etc. I think even 5 is too many but I know that some people like to have a lot of options. If you’ve followed all of the previous steps then it should be really easy for you to decide on the top 3 photographers you want to work with.

Now that you know what style of shooting and editing you like, what your budget is, what you want in a package, what personality type you want to work with and the top 3 photographers you want, start reaching out! If all of the photographers that you want to work with happen to be booked already, ask them for recommendations! That’s it! Happy booking!

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